Cold Turkey

…and that is that.

I reckon I’ve watched my last game of basketball for about 10 weeks. The NBA finished a week ago and the European leagues that I’m interested in have all finished too. I won’t be watching any WNBA or Women’s Eurobasket (Sexist! Misogynist!).

It’s been a good year for me, betting wise, despite the horrendous losing streak I wrote about previously. I’ll miss basketball but at the same time it’s quite nice to have a break from it, and use that time that would have been spent watching it to do other things.

The next 10 weeks are IMO the worst 10 weeks in the sporting calendar. No basketball and no NFL until we have Eurobasket 2015 starting on 5th September, and the NFL season starting on the 10th September. When the NFL season starts I’ll probably have a regular post a week devoted to that. Now there’s something for everyone to look forward to!

It’s not like I won’t be writing anything until then either. I’ve got plenty of posts in the pipeline over this summer. As Wimbledon’s around the corner, I’ve got something to say about that…

Trivia Question of the Week

I introduced a weekly Trivia question to the blog last week. This has caused the blog’s traffic stats to go through the roof! I asked:

Who are the two golfers to have contested and lost playoffs/extra holes in all four of the major championships?

I’m sure most people would have named Greg Norman and one of them, the other was some bloke called Craig Wood…congrats if you got that one without the aid of the Google machine. Interesting that Greg Norman was ranked no.1 in the world for 331 weeks (2nd only to Tiger Woods with 683 weeks) but only won 2 majors…not a very good majors/weeks ratio!

Anyways, this week’s question, and it’s pretty good:

In football/soccer/kickball who was the last team to win the English FA cup wearing striped shirts?

Just to be clear, this is the shirt they were wearing in the final, which may not necessarily be their usual home strip.

NBA 2014/15 Playoffs Summary

They are who we thought they were…

So the NBA season is over for another year with the best team winning in the Golden State Warriors. GSW had a historically good regular season, in terms of games won and their point margin. There’s been plenty written about how teams as good as that usually go on to win the title.

Andre Iguodala was the pleasantly surprising winner of Finals MVP.


I also had money on Lebron, who everyone would consider being “the best player in the series”, but as he played on the losing team he didn’t win “Finals MVP”. Interesting that Curry didn’t receive a single vote for MVP despite being the slight odds on favourite going into game 6.

Throughout the rounds of the playoffs I’ve been posting up some recommended bets here on the blog, we’ve had:

  • 5 wins
  • 3 loses
  • Total profit of +3.17 points 

If anyone’s been able to retire to the South of France on the back of those tips, at the very least, send your new best mate Flash a postcard, eh?

Something else…during the playoffs you may have seen a graphics on TV saying the David Blatt has won 16 titles in Europe. I’ve seen people on Twitter saying things along the lines of “See. I knew he was a great coach!” and “only a coaching expert from the highest echelons could win 16 titles in Europe”.

“Winning here is easy!”

I’ve been overly critical of Blatt man, but I still think this 16 titles needs clearing up, or the biggest asterisk known to man next to it.

No, not big enough.

11 of those titles were in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv: 5 League titles & 6 Cups. Maccabi are by far & away the biggest basketball team in Israel. There’s been 60 league championships in Israel over the years and Maccacbi have won 51 of them! Out of the 9 times they didnt win, in 7 of them they finished runner-up. As for the cup they’ve won it 42 times out of 55 years!  Accumulatively, out of 115 trophies in Israeli basketball, Maccabi have won 93 of them, that’s 81%!

In conclusion, professional basketball in Israel could be politely described as a joke. As long as you remember to turn up & have 5 guys on court, you could most likely ‘coach’ Maccabi Tel Aviv to a trophy.

If you want to talk about Blatt’s European record as a indicator of coaching prowess, then mention winning EuroBasket 2007 or an Olympic bronze medal in 2012, both with Russia. Or maybe winning the Euroleague (although the final 4 format is a total crapshoot)…

Finally I’m going to add a new little feature to the blog, a Trivia question of the week. Who likes sports and doesn’t like trivia? Not me, nor the good souls reading this. So feel free to think about it, use the Google machine if you cant wait for the answer next week, and later impress work colleagues and ladies at the bar with your new found knowledge:

Who are the two golfers to have contested and lost playoffs/extra holes in all four of the major championships?

French Open Fallout

Let me bring you up to speed… I tipped Djokovic to win the French Open a couple of weeks ago. He finally beats Nadal at Rolland Garros at the 7th time of asking, he then beats Murray to get into the final. His odds of winning this final were 1.15 (-666 US).

Things are looking rosy. Novak is set to complete his career grand slam, joining a very select group of 7 tennis legends. A group that does NOT include Sampras, Becker, McEnroe, Bjorn, Lendl or Tim Henman. Djokovic looks set to win his 9th grand slam placing him solely 5th in the all-time list. At the age of 28 there’s time to win several more slams cementing his place as one of the greatest players of all-time… More importantly that all that I’m going to win some money!

He loses the final in four sets to a fat lad wearing a pair of shorts from the ‘lost property’ box:

Stan Wawrinka. Swiss tennis player, not Roger Federer.

…that wasn’t in the script.

In all seriousness Djokovic didn’t play well on the day, Wawrinka did and was the worthy winner. But this does bring about some questions about Djokovic’s Grand slam record: he’s been on top of his game since 2011 and he’s “only” got 8 slams. Is that figure too low, too high or about right?

Ok let’s compare this dude to all former no.1 ranked players:

Conditional formatting: 21st century aphrodisiac.

On first glance it doesn’t look too bad considering Lendl and Connors finished with 8 slams despite (currently) being ranked no.1 for over 2 years longer than Djokovic. A 50% win rate in Slam finals just below the average rate of all former no.1s (56%). Note Lendl’s 11 loses in Finals.

His Slams/Weeks No.1 ratio is also ok compared to the chaps above him in the list. Although I’m the 1st to admit this is a bollocks metric. There are only 4 slams a year so the guys who are ranked no.1 for years are going to appear worse compared to guys who are no.1 for less time. Extreme case: Pat Rafter won 2 Slams but was only ranked no.1 for a week.

The table above provides a little bit of interest, but nothing deeper. The question I want to answer is if Djokovic’s Grand Slam record is worse than what was expected.

So what better way than to have a look at his performance compared to the odds. There’s been plenty of research done that suggests than betting markets are a very good (but not perfect) predictor for what’s going to happen.

Such data can be found at the excellent They have the odds going back about 12 years for ATP, back 7 years for WTA. Using games where they have odds for, and only using games that were completed or someone retired after the first set, we get this:


I’m only showing players that have completed more than 90 games at Grand Slam events, and I’m using the using the Average odds that Tennis-data provides. The important field is the ROI column, what % return you would have by backing a player in every Grand Slam match in the dataset. Basically if a player has done worse than the betting market expects than they will have a negative ROI like James Blake. If they have done better than expected than will have a positive ROI…and won’t you look at fashion icon Stan Wawrinka at the top of this particular list. A surprise winner of 2 slams now!

If you backed Novak using the average odds at every slam match you would have a ROI of 3%. That’s pretty good considering. Maybe this dude’s record isn’t bad after all.

NBA 2014/15 Finals

And then there were two…

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

Here we are, the Finals are here. Usually I would be pumped to the max but this year’s playoffs have been a bit of a let-down. I think they’ve lacked real excitement. The only great series was Clippers v Spurs, but even then a few of those games involved intentional fouling DeAndre Jordan constantly…which I previously whinged about. The only series winners that weren’t predicted here on Winners Win was the Clippers over the Spurs. Rather than claim to be a Fucking Predicting Legend I think the reason is that this year’s playoffs have lacked surprises.

Current Cavs ‘coach’ Blatt could be the first coach the win the Euroleague and then NBA title back to back. Note the use of ‘coach’, I’m not impressed with Blatt. If you watch this team play it’s not like they even have a coach. It’s all through LeBron, his usage rate has been sky high and they rarely run an actual play. In his defence Love is out and Kyrie has been injured, so he’s had to carry this team to the Finals.

LeBron has now got to 5 consecutive Finals. He’s got to 6 in total with the spanking he received from the Spurs back in 2007. If he loses this one his record will only be 2 from 6. So when NBA ‘experts’ Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith compare him to Michael Jordan, they’ll make it look even less favourable considering MJ won 6 titles from 6 Finals…not that anyone with a fully functioning brain would care what those 2 morons have to say on any topic.


The betting market has GSW at 1.44 (-225 US) to win. I’ve already got money on them at 1.67 to lift the title and I’m happy with this position. Even now I think they’ve got a greater than the implied 69% chance. Maybe if the Cavs win a game on the road from one of the first two games, then the market will overreact and lead to some generous odds again to back GSW, for anyone who hasn’t backed them already.

Basically for the Cavs to have a good chance LeBron needs to play awesome and play 40+mins every game. But GSW can choose from 4 guys that they can put on LeBron. So that counteracts any fatigue or foul trouble that one guy could suffer when tasked with the job of defending LeBron. It’s like a war of attrition.

I believe that GSW are clearly the better team, they’ve better than the Cavs on both sides of the ball, and they have home court advantage. So if I had to choose what I think is the most likely scoreline…then I would go with 4-1 GSW, which is available at 4.0 (+300). I was an earlybird and dutched the 4-1 & 4-2 scorelines at 4.5 and 6.5.

GSW -1.5 games on the series handicap is available at evens. I reckon that’s worth you putting some of your pocket money towards!

Looking at the odds for the Finals MVP was a waste of time. Curry is the obvious choice but he’s at 1.5 (-200)! I wouldn’t bother at those odds. LeBron is at 3.0 (+200), obviously there’s no point in backing a player who plays for the team you thinks going to lose. If you’re a total degenerate and can’t function without having a bet then you could back someone like Klay Thompson around 21.0 and hope he’s goes mental and has a couple of 40+ point games.

Prediction: GSW to win the title in 5 games, Curry to win the MVP.

Recommended Bets: GSW to win the title at 1.67 (pending bet from previous round). GSW -1.5 games series handicap at evens.

Update: GSW are the champs, winning 4-2.

Bets Summary: 2-0. +1.67 pts